Pashupatinath’s offerings grabbed by former royals, India: Minister

January 7th, 2009 - 4:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyKathmandu, Jan 7 (IANS) A senior Maoist minister, who is also the spokesman of Nepal’s government, has alleged that for years the offerings accumulated at Nepal’s Pashupatinath temple, one of the most revered Hindu shrines in the world, were grabbed by Nepal’s former royal family and its southern neighbour India.”For years, the offerings devotees made at the Pashupatinath temple were taken to the palace and New Delhi,” Maoist Minister for Information and Culture Krishna Bahadur Mahara said.

The Janadisha daily, associated with the ruling Maoist party, Wednesday reported the minister as having made the allegation at a public programme in Dang district in Midwestern Nepal Tuesday.

Mahara defended the controversial decision taken by the Pashupatinath Area Development Trust (PADT) that administers the temple, to end a nearly 300-year-old tradition seeking to engage only Indian priests from India’s Karnataka and Kerala states to worship the icon. Instead, last week, the PADT began appointing Nepali priests.

“Even today, no one knows what happened to the offerings made at the temple for years,” the Maoist minister said. “No one knows where the money went, what was done with it. It used to go straight to the king and India.

“But now that old tradition has been broken.”

The Maoist minister claimed that the PADT has appointed Nepali priests to stop the irregularities at the temple and ensure that the money it gets from devotees stays in Nepal.

Mahara said that since Thursday, when Nepali priests took over the worship, the daily collection was being made public and would be utilised in a transparent way.

Without directly naming India, Mahara also accused the neighbouring country of trying to intervene in Nepal’s internal matters.

Since the row over the removal of Indian priests at the temple erupted, the leaders of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party have been expressing grave concern.

BJP leaders Rajnath Singh as well as L.K. Advani have called up Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to urge him to stop Maoist intervention in the hallowed temple.

Mulayam Singh Yadav who heads the Samajwadi Party also met Prachanda during his recent Nepal visit and asked him to defuse the growing dispute.

Nepal’s major parties have also joined the protests.

On Wednesday, the Nepali Congress, Nepal’s main opposition party, said the Maoists had “nakedly intervened” in the hallowed shrine.

Mahara flayed the critics at home too, saying they were “speaking at the behest of foreigners” and putting nationalism in jeopardy.

Overriding Prachanda’s assurance to the parties at home and India that his government would abide by the decision of the Supreme Court, which begins to hear the dispute Monday, Mahara said the government was resolute about retaining the Nepali priests.

The Supreme Court this week ordered the government to halt new appointments and to allow the ousted Indian priests to conduct the worship till the dispute was resolved.

Former members of PADT have warned that the growing Pashupatinath row would hurt India-Nepal relations.

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